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SIIA Ed Tech Alert, November 2002

Two items that may be on interest to the list  from the new SIIA Ed Tech
Alert, November 2002/


In an effort to create a level field for "anytime, anywhere" online
distance education, the U.S. Department of Education recently updated
federal student financial aid rules by eliminating the 12-hour rule. The
rule had been a barrier to development of and access to online courses. It
required students participating in non-traditional programs to participate
in a minimum of 12 hours of course work per week to access federal
financial aid. The new regulation now only requires that institutions must
offer at least one day of instruction a week to qualify for aid, which is
the same as college programs that operate in a traditional calendar

A related requirement - the "50% rule" restricting institutions from
offering more than 50 percent of their classes by telecommunications - is
expected to be considered next year as part of the reauthorization of the
federal Higher Education Act. Unlike the 12-hour rule, the 50% rule is
written into the statute and thus requires Congress to amend the law. SIIA
will continue to advocate for its passage such as through support for the
"Internet Equity and Education Act," sponsored by Representative Johnny
Isakson (R-GA) and Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) of the Web-based Education
Commission.  The related U.S. Department of Education press release is
available at:  <http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/11-2002/11012002.html>.


The U.S. and China recently signed a memorandum of understanding to
jointly build a web-based language system to help students and educators
learn English and Chinese. The eLanguage Learning System (ELLS) will focus
first on English and Chinese, but will eventually be expanded to include
other languages. It will be made available to the public at no cost. This
project was one of three Web-based education initiatives announced by
President Bush at the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) forum in
Shanghai in October, 2001.  The Education Department will contribute a
total of $3 million to the U.S.-China E-Language Project through the Star
Schools program. 

According to the Department: "The project will address problems faced in
many American schools that want to offer foreign language instruction but
lack the teachers with the requisite foreign language skills. This system
will also help schools with large immigrant populations needing English as
a second language instruction, a major area of concern in the new No Child
Left Behind Act. The E-Language Project will be especially useful for
teaching English to Chinese students in the remote and rural areas of that
country." The project is being viewed initially as an R&D project, with
work conducted through universities and the U.S. Army Training Support
Center, which has expertise in this area. 

As described in the September, 2002 project white paper: "While the
government has been responsible for the development and research for the
ELLIS, it is the private sector that can most likely bring this concept to
scale. . . . A final model for sustainability is to simply make it
available in the public domain to any corporate interest that would like
to develop the concept further and market it." SIIA will continue to work
with the U.S. Department of Education to ensure a long-term model that is
sustainable by providing for an appropriate government role vis-�-vis
private sector offerings.  

Additional information about the eLanguage Learning System (ELLS) is
available at: <http://ott.educ.msu.edu/elanguage>.  You can sign up for
the Ed. Alert at: Welcome to SIIA's Ed-Tech Alert, an e-mail newsletter
providing a brief update on federal and state education technology policy
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